Thursday, April 29, 2010
I've worn many hats around this bookstore of ours. Before making my triumphant return to the sales floor as a bookseller, I worked in our events department. This might seem like something I'm just throwing out there, as I don't intend to elaborate much more than that, but this means that I rubbed elbows with an unsung hero who is, in one case, becoming all the more unsung as time goes on.
On June 16th, 2009, we hosted an event for local author, and all around great guy, Matthew Simmons. We were there, at the College Inn Pub, for his novella (really a novelette, as you will often hear me say) A Jello Horse. Book Editor for The Stranger, and all around nice guy, Paul Constant was also in attendance.
At the time of the event, neither myself nor Mr. Constant had any kind of firsthand knowledge of the book itself. Matthew had intimated that there were jackalopes, but that was literally the full extent of how informed I was. Danielle, my equally bespectacled counterpart in events, had already read the book and shared a theory which was then transmuted into advice. She said something to the effect that the book was best experienced in one read. With a total of 67 pages, this is an entirely achievable goal, and something that I'm not alone in saying I totally appropriated from her.
These words undoubtedly influenced Paul to say what he said (re: how it should be read), and I can quite honestly say that they alone led me to say what I said in my staff recommendation for the book (something to the effect of "read it in one sitting. If not for yourself, for your children").
The reason why I'm writing about this now is that A Jello Horse has made it into its fourth printing from Publishing Genius Press, which has led to a new jacket design for the book.
See that in the bottom corner? Danielle's words have reached, I think, the height of what a reader's words can reach in regards to a work of literature. That is, a variant is featured on the cover of the work itself. So, to Danielle I say: thank you for sharing your words with us. It enhanced my experience with the book, and has done/will do the same for plenty of others.
Since I still have you here, I feel I should suggest that you take a look at the work of Matthew Simmons. He's an impressive talent that is really on the rise, and for good reason. Along with being the author of A Jello Horse, he is The Man Who Couldn't Blog, the forthcoming author of too many things to count (a novel and two short story collections, I think), and teaches a class at the Richard Hugo House from time to time.
But don't take my word for it! Instead, look at this and see (a second opinion) for yourself.
PS: Thank you, Paul Constant, for allowing me to lean on your words for some kind of credibility.
Images from our smashing event last night, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of 84 Charing Cross Rd. Days before, Pam and Brad took some time for one last practice (pictured above). All their hard work paid off with a huge crowd and teary eyes by the end. The sweet friendship between Helene and Frank was brought to life and the wonder, nostalgia, and connection that books bring was indeed emphasized. What better way to celebrate a love of books?
If you missed the event, stay tuned here for a video recording. Or, grab the book and revel in Helene and Frank's letters on your own.
Anna, in Events
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Yesterday Les Gamins de Paris, a French immersion pre-school, stopped by our main branch to listen to Caitlin read the best in Kids picture books. Caitlin livened up a Tuesday morning with transportation noises from Roadwork!, growls and songs from The Story of Growl, alternating train and shark sounds from Shark vs. Train and rhyming tongue-twisters from Bubble Trouble.
Did you know that we host a story time every week? More than that, actually. At our Main branch, we invite young'ns to read with us on Tuesday and Saturday. And at our Bellevue and Mill Creek stores, experienced story-time readers gather their best books and share them aloud with little ones every Thursday.
Come join the fun and bring your best train sounds!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Thursday: Rearranging fixtures for our event with Karl Marlantes, who was immensely kind, not to mention modest (which is particularly refreshing given the unanimous praise his debut novel Matterhorn has received), this was the cover located directly in front of (and underneath) me:
Friday: While shelving in our Mathematics section, I noticed a book that was slightly out of alphabetical order. It was Everything And More: A Compact History of Infinity by one David Foster Wallace.
Sunday: As if to make up for the day off, Mr. Wallace struck twice during our short day here at the bookstore.
First, a discussion about the ins and outs of book collecting brought about a digression (the only one of its kind) to the current value of a first edition, first printing of Infinite Jest.
Then, just before closing, I helped a customer locate a book for her book club. She wasn't sure who the author was, but she knew "Curious Hair" was in the title. As in Girl With The. Upon arriving in the section, there was a brief discussion about DFW and the importance of experimental fiction. As a degree carrying English major, I walked away elated by this exchanging of ideas.
Monday: Mere moments ago, I was hailed by one of our lovely events associates. When I reached the top of the stairs where she was prepping a display for this evening's author event with Kim Severson, she held a copy of the book that started all of this: Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky.
While I was sold on the idea of someone (anyone, really) taking some kind of road trip with a figure the likes of David Foster Wallace, I am pleased to report that the specifics should yield far tastier fruit for all of us to enjoy (the specifics being that this road trip took place during DFW's book tour for Infinite Jest)!
As it turns out, we received an uncorrected proof of the book today, and it had yet to be claimed. Since I seem to be incapable of keeping my likes and dislikes to myself, it was known to the aforementioned staffer that I'm something of a fan. So, due to the fact that I have thoughtful, sweet co-workers, I sit here with a new book in my hot little hands.
With all of this out in the blogosphere now, I'm curious. When was the last time you, my patient, possibly bored reader, have had an author embedded in your life in oddly tangible ways? Furthermore, who was it?
Protagonist Joanne Walker, in Urban Shaman (an earlier staff pick by Mechio), has been working in the Seattle Police department motor pool, as a mechanic, until she sees something bizarre and stirring from her window seat on her return flight from Ireland. Once the plane has landed, she wastes no time and follows the scene--incredible though it may seem--which leads her and you to the discovery of her true, previously unknown, full identity.
Joanne is an amazon of sorts, as tall as the chief of police, and that proves to be a plus and a minus while he vacillates on whether to keep her assigned to the brutal cases that have been popping up all of sudden. And then there's a pesky, trickster coyote that keeps showing up with riddles that would puzzle the sphinx. And, of course, more adventures to come in the books that follow Joanne's story.
And then there's Mercy Thompson, in the first book that Patricia Briggs features her in, Moon Called. Would you believe that she's a walker, a skin-walker, and a mechanic to boot? She's made it a little further in the world than Joanne, because she owns her own garage ... sold to her by a gremlin. There's more than your standard fare of vampires, werewolves, and what have yous. But our kick-a.. heroine can take care of herself ... and rescue some others along the way.
And then last, but certainly not least is Charles de Lint, urban fantasy writer extraodinaire, who wrote about Altagracia (her friends call her Grace) Quintero, in yet another female mechanic story, The Mystery of Grace, with a twist. She worked at Sanchez Motor Works customizing hot rods, and here's the twist, until she died. But that is nowhere near the end of the line for this also heroic character. Alice Hoffman wrote, on the jacket cover: "Charles de Lint is the modern master of urban fantasy. Folktale, myth, fairy tale, dreams, urban legend---all of it adds up to pure magic in de Lint's vivid, original world. No one does it better.” And my earlier favorite book of his is the wonderful Someplace to be Flying ... check it out too! So, there you have it, three great writers all coming up with the idea of their heroines being mechanically inclined and gifted. It's fun to read about those ideas since I have absolutely no idea what's under the hood of my boyfriend's car, nor do I really want to. But I was definitely entertained by these three different women and their stories. So do read on.
And, if you want to read more about Rupert Sheldrake's work, check out his fun nonfiction piece, Dogs that Know When their Owners are Coming Home. There's some cool stuff in there, too!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I've been a bookseller for long enough to genuinely wish that I could take part in one of those monstrously popular series. The Harry Potter and Stieg Larsson books spring to mind right off the bat, but to be fair, I'd even settle for being on board for something like Twilight. Anything that inspires the kind of obsessive hunger pangs that one must endure while they await the next volume.
The point I'm awkwardly fumbling around here is this: I simply haven't had the opportunity to experience the love, frustration, and waiting associated with serial fiction. Or any kind of serialized writing, for that matter.
Until one fateful day (a handful of weeks ago) when a co-worker told me about a comic book written by the incredibly talented Bryan K. Vaughan called Y: The Last Man.
At any rate, I trusted the co-worker who recommended it, and I saw that we had volumes one through four. Within the week, I had torn through all of them, was placing orders for volumes five through eight (as we had nine and ten in stock), and was literally dreaming about the series. Dreaming! It's so good that it literally permeated my subconscious, and got me to put down a collection of short stories that I'd been enjoying. When you're craving pizza, sushi will not leave you feeling satisfied. Though this series transcends mere sustenance, my friends.
This narrative is simply amazing. Not once did I complete a volume with anything but an intense need to continue the tale and know what happens next. Oh, the twists, oh, the turns!
To give you a spoiler-free idea of what you're in for, the premise is that one day in 2002, all of the men in the world die except for, you guessed it, our protagonist (and his pet Capuchin)! As Hollywood has proven with Every Which Way But Loose and Bedtime for Bonzo, anyone with a monkey is pretty worthwhile (see: Clint Eastwood, Ronald Reagan). I feel like this is a good time to mention that this series shares no similarities, and thus cannot be described as cheesy (or anything negative, for that matter).
Since receiving this final pay-off, I've been exploring new avenues in the land of graphic novels and arty comics. Brian K. Vaughan's stint with Runaways was pretty amazing, as well as Bill Willingham's Fables, and Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.
Now, to the best of my understanding, these are all relatively well-established titles and authors. I don't wish to present them as undiscovered gems simply because their collective awesomeness went under my radar until somewhat recently. I'm just hoping that maybe someone will stumble across these titles, sample the flavor, and find themselves delightfully hooked on at least one awesome series.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
From our bookseller, Terri: "On April 12th I took a call from a woman at a Seattle hospital. She was looking for several copies of a French/English medical dictionary and the Lonely Planet travel guide to Haiti. I asked her if she would be interested in a Haitian/English medical dictionary instead. She told me that a group of medical staff were leaving in three days for Haiti and would need the books as soon as possible. I let her know that we could have the books ready for her by that afternoon. She was "wowed" and very appreciative of our ability to make the exact book for their needs when they needed them."
- Tera, EBM Operator
Friday, April 16, 2010
Homer, our Book Machine, is participating in his first Reading Aloud event! The bookstore is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the publication of Helene Hanff’s classic, 84 Charing Cross Road with a reading, April 28, at 7PM. Hanff’s little book is a selection of her correspondence with the good London booksellers at Marks & Co., the used bookstore from which she ordered all her books. Homer is reprinting a selection of the out-of-print titles Hanff bought used copies of. Here then the list so far:
- Two elegant, slim volumes of essays by Belloc, Hillaire: On Something and First and Last, both from The Echo Library.
- Joseph Addison’s famous essays from “The Spectator,” of a country gentleman, The Sir Roger De Coverley Papers
- As Helene found all those years ago, there is still no inexpensive edition Donne, John Sermons. So we’re reprinting his Devotions, with Two Sermons.
- Our Latin New Testament, or Novum Testamentum Latine, is edited by Everhard Nestle, and at $15.00 is considerably more inexpensive than any currently available in print.
- Dictionary of The Vulgate New Testament, at only $10.00!
- Our Hazlitt, William. Selected Essays, is not the Nonesuch Press edition, but is still a good selection, edited by Frank Cass, inexpensive, but still better and more complete than the in-print edition from Oxford, in which some modern editor has meddled and altered a number of the most famous essays in English. Also reprinted, Hazlitt’s Table Talk.
- Hunt, Leigh. Essays.
- Johnson, Samuel, On Shakespeare, 1908, Intro by Walter Raleigh – ours is exactly this edition!
- Prose, from poet and playwright, Jonson, Ben. Timber: Or, Discoveries Made Upon Men and Matter, edited with an introduction and notes by Felix E. Schelling.
- Lamb, Charles, Selected Essays of Charles Lamb
- Landor, Walter Savage, The Pentameron and Other Imaginary Conversations
- Newman, John Henry. Discourses on the Scope and Nature of University Education. Addressed to the Catholics of Dublin- "'Idea of a University"
- Quiller-Couch, Arthur, The Pilgrim's Way
- Stevenson, Robert Louis’s essays, Virginibus Puerisque (for boys and girls)
- Wyatt, Thomas. Poetical Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt with a Memoir and Critical Dissertation
- Walton, Izaak. The Lives of - John Donne - Sir Henry Wotton - Richard Hooker - George Herbert & Robert Sanderson
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
If there is one thing that I am sure Literature is good for, it is to immortalize moments of time through characters, plots and scenes we connect to. What better way to honor Holocaust Remembrance week than to share some of my favorite books that deal with this tragic moment in history?
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon may be more about the birth of comic books in the continuously modernizing United States, but at its core it is a Holocaust survivor novel. It is a novel about escape and rebirth. Remembering, forgetting, the American Dream, Immigration and American Judaism after WWII.
Any book by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor himself, brings the haunting imagery of concentration camps alive. My favorite would have to be Night, which is also perhaps his most famous.
The moral dilemmas that unravel in Sophie’s Choice by William Styron give a female perspective to the Holocaust. Where is the line of right and wrong amidst such terror and dehumanization?
Finally, I would like to recommend W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, a portrait of four Jewish emigrants who live through exile, persecution and dislocation, all haunted by the impact of the Holocaust.
Friday, April 09, 2010
New Cookbooks of Note:
*I am still thrilled to continue to showcase the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook by Keller. I would like to see everything in that book reduced (yeah, like a sauce … ) to DVD format, because the images literally jump off the page.
*Recipes from an Italian Summer- sign me up! Can you imagine the thrill of spending a summer in Italy? I’d love it. But instead, still happily, I get to look at the beauteous cover art of this book.
*Trader Joe cookbooks- with one already as a staff pick, you can’t go wrong. Besides, with my two person household, TJ’s knows how to do
smaller-sized meals and keep them delicious and affordable.
*Plus there are some new entertainment books to consider
for spring and summer. What budget you ask? Well, a girl can dream of lavish entertainment for family & friends, right?! Just got in Lulu Powers Food to Flowers, lots of good ideas … including how to do manage your houseguests' breakfast.
So, come visit and stay a spell. There’s that comfy (what would you call it?) bench, and lots and lots of cool bargain books to ingest! And remember, even though I consider myself to be an apprentice in the culinary arts, I am ever eager to be here to help you find just that right cookbook.
Cookbooks, Calendars, Pet Gallery, etc.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
by Teddi Doleski
This is from 1983, and you can tell. But despite the simple, 80's-ish illustrations (which are actually great, just a little dated), this is one of my favorite children's books about dealing with emotions. Justin's friend calls him a name, and it makes him feel hurt. The Hurt becomes a physical thing, a round ball with a sad face, that he carries home with him. As he feels worse and worse, the hurt grows larger and larger, and he has to figure out how to get it to go away. I love the conversations he has with his dad, and the gloomy expression on The Hurt's face. And I can totally relate to the feeling of carrying around a big sad thing wherever you go.
When Two Are Angry At Each Other
by Tor Age Bringsvaerd, Illustrated by Tina Soli
I just found this on the shelf and it got this whole post rolling. Any book with underpants on the front has to be good (Henrietta There's No One Better is another example), and this doesn't disappoint. The narrator tells us that sometimes she and her mommy get angry at each other and then make up, and then goes on to talk about what happens when other things are angry at each other. “When two dragons are angry at each other... smoke comes out of their behinds.” Don't you want to know what happens when two raisins are angry at each other? Balloons? Angels?
When Sophie Gets Angry- Really, Really Angry...
By Molly Bang
This is a Caldecott honor book, and a classic. Bright illustrations show exactly what the title leads you to expect. So what happens, when Sophie gets so angry? Well, a lot of things. For example, “she kicks. She screams. She wants to smash the world to smithereens.” Later, “she runs and runs and runs until she can't run anymore. Then, for a little while, she cries.” Aww, Sophie. Me too.
Andrew's Angry Words
By Dorothea Lachner, Illustrated by Thé Tjong-Khing
As someone who works with people all day, I really understand how we can pass bad moods onto others. When someone says something rude to you, don't you sometimes, accidentally, pass it on to the next person? It's terrible, but I can't always shake off the icky feeling, and this book is all about Andrew's angry words getting passed on from his sister to the baker's son, from the baker's son to a poet, from the poet to a passing motorcyclist... and on and on and on. Poor Andrew tries to catch them, but they seem to take on a life of their own. I often imagine the illustrations from this when I'm trying to Be The Bigger Person. Be the person who puts all the words in a sack and throws them in the ocean, I think.
Big Rabbit's Bad Mood
By Ramona Bădescu, Illustrated by Delphine Durand
This is a newer title, and we all adore it. Rabbit's Bad Mood sits around his house all day, watching TV, picking his nose and piling boogers near the couch, bringing down the mood all over Rabbit's house. This is one where the illustrations are the best part, and they are not to be missed.
I hope I don't need to write up a review of it, but just take this moment to ask yourself, “When was the last time I read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?” If it's been awhile, then stop by some time to read it. It never goes out of style.
Friday, April 02, 2010
If you saw my head stuck in the machine last week that was because I had to climb in and assist the book in rotation, as the robot arm twirled it in preparation for cutting.
The folks at On Demand Books (who brought us the EBM) are making leaps and bounds with the Book Machine technology and they promise I will never again have to squeeze a book while the machine is in operation. We'll see.
University of Washington postdoctoral researcher, Stefan Baums, approached us a month ago to see if we could print his dissertation in book form before he left the country for Kyoto. He designed a simple cover to complement the rather weighty title: A Gandhari Commentary on Early Buddhist Verses: British Library Kharosthi fragments 7,9, 13 and 18.
I'm pleased to say we finished the job well before his plane left the runway.
- Tera, EBM Operator